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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/15/2015

Guests: Stuart Stevens, Maria Teresa Kumar, Steve Schmidt, Jonathan Dienst, Jonathan Alter, Mia Bloom, Casey Dolan

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 15, 2015 Guest: Stuart Stevens, Maria Teresa Kumar, Steve Schmidt, Jonathan Dienst, Jonathan Alter, Mia Bloom, Casey Dolan

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Well, it`s certainly a surprise to me, Rachel.

MADDOW: Yes, it couldn`t be --


Here to help.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: There are nine debaters on the stage at the fifth Republican presidential debate tonight, but most of that first hour isolated Marco Rubio versus Ted Cruz in what could be the real battle for the Republican presidential nomination.

And while they were at it, Donald Trump managed to demonstrate that he doesn`t know what the internet actually is.

Joining us now, Stuart Stevens, a columnist for -- joining us now Stuart Stevens, a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and former chief strategist for Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign.

Also with us, Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist and Msnbc political analyst, and Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino and host of "CHANGING AMERICA" on shift by Msnbc.

Stuart, let`s start with you. Your reactions to that first hour?

STUART STEVENS, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: I thought it was a terrible debate for Donald Trump, you`re right, he doesn`t understand what the internet is.

He seems to think that you can go around and unplug it from different places. He`s a ridiculous figure and the more this goes on, I think the more ridiculous he looks.

I thought that Chris Christie did well, I wish he got in the talk more, I think that he presents some self -- a sort of a sane candidate of strength.

And if this --


STEVENS: Becomes a choice between who is the stronger candidate on questions of national security, he has the fact that he`s not a member of Congress, it distinguishes himself.

And in the Cruz versus Rubio, I just think Cruz is tremendously unlikable person. And Rubio, I think is someone you`re drawn to. You like Rubio. He seems to know what he`s talking about.

And he has a command of the moment much more so than Cruz.

O`DONNELL: We couldn`t be luckier to have Stuart Stevens who ran the last Republican presidential campaign and now Steve Schmidt who ran the Republican presidential campaign before that, John McCain`s campaign.

Steve, you and Stuart have been there, you`ve been in those debate halls, you`ve been there in debate prep with candidates going into these things.

What`s your scorecard on that first hour?

STEVE SCHMIDT, CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST & PUBLIC RELATIONS WORKER FOR UNITED STATES REPUBLICAN PARTY: Look, I think that one of the things that`s starting to play out now in the race is the narrowing of the field to three distinct brackets.

We have Donald Trump, his poll numbers continue to move upwards, now over 40 percent in a number of national polls, Ted Cruz has emerged I think as the ideological candidate in this race.

No one is two Ted Cruzs right? He has come up over Donald Trump in Iowa, he can certainly win one of these early states. And then I think right now there`s the third bracket, and that`s the establishment bracket.

What`s driving the ballot for Republican primary voters in this election is strength. And so, you saw Jeb Bush tonight. This was Jeb Bush`s best debate.

But if these numbers don`t move for Jeb Bush after this debate, it means his campaign is effectively over. Chris Christie, very good tonight.

Chris Christie in New Hampshire is moving up in the numbers, and Chris Christie has to be able to take market share from John Kasich to be able to collapse those numbers.

Take a point or two out of Carly Fiorina, and Christie and Rubio, there`s only room for one of them as this race starts to narrow into the Trump bracket, the Cruz bracket.

It`s either going to be Rubio or Christie, I suspect, hanging out in that third position as this race starts to go deep.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, your reaction to that first hour?

KUMAR: I think Steve is absolutely right. You`re actually seeing the three different parts of the Republican Party.

What I found interesting though is that Jeb, not only did he come out fighting but he also made sense and he was clear and it was very clear that the person that is on the losing end of this tonight right now is Donald Trump.

The fact that the applause, every single time someone attacked Donald Trump and there was applause that broke out into the theater also signals that perhaps he`s not as the frontrunner any longer.

The fact that Rubio and Cruz went toe-to-toe, and I believe that Rubio came out on top only makes him more stronger.

And then finally, when you look at -- you actually look at Fiorina, she`s having a bit of a tough time actually catching her footing.

She`s not doing as well as she did in the first two debates and I think that she is trying to up her way in, but she`s just not being able to provide that ability and that space that she needs.

And Carson, the one that is flailing right now unfortunately is Carson. When he was asked a direct question of whether or not he would feel badly if children were killed when we were doing warfare against ISIS.

He didn`t say no, and I think that really takes a testament to really where he stands and the lack of depth that he has on when it comes to engaging in war.

The fact that he could have to have a stance when he was asked how he should react to the patriot war when that -- when you had that little tiff between Cruz and Rubio, he doesn`t know.

Again, it shows a lack of his own lack of credentials when it comes to international affairs.

O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush`s big moments were at the beginning where he called Donald Trump a chaos candidate, and then he -- that he would be a chaos president.

He then had a big line, a big reaction in the hall anyway, which doesn`t mean much because the voters are not in the hall.

Got a big cheer when Bush said you`re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. Stuart, can Bush somehow save his campaign tonight?

STEVENS: I don`t think he can save it tonight, but I think that the path for Jeb Bush is to show strength by attacking the person who is seen as strong.

This is -- this is a bar room fight, you walk into the bar, you find the biggest guy and you hit him. And you don`t expect to take him down with one punch, but you hit him again.

You don`t do it like Ted Cruz, which is you try to be friends with the person. People are drawn to the shark, not the pilot fish. And you`ve got to go in there and show strength.

So, I think this is good for Jeb Bush to do, he ought to keep doing it and you`ve got to just put Donald Trump under pressure.

Pressure and see how he responds. You know if you`ve ever watched Twitter or anything, the guy responds to everything --



STEVENS: I mean, if you`re a 14-year-old in a basement in Moscow, you could start a nuclear war with this guy if he was president.

So, I think that you have to just keep at it. And what I have been baffled by is why no one has turned to Donald Trump and looked him in the eye and said Donald, you are a ridiculous candidate for president and see how he reacts.

O`DONNELL: Steve, to Stuart`s point about going at Donald Trump, the energy issue comes up. His favorite term, the energy issue.

We saw Bush go after Trump, but he did it with that half-hearted energy that Trump talks about. If you look at the energy that Marco Rubio was throwing at Ted Cruz and the energy that Ted Cruz was throwing back at Rubio, that was a real fight.

That was -- each one of those guys was trying as hard as they could in that moment to take down the other. We don`t see anybody try to hit Donald Trump the way Marco Rubio was trying to hit Ted Cruz.

SCHMIDT: No, certainly not. And look, Stuart is exactly right. The way that you engage Donald Trump is through the aspects of his personality that have been dominant in this race, and that`s the narcissism.

You hit him in the ego. You go after him through the prism of laughter, you mock him, you make fun of him. And that`s how you put him under pressure.

You don`t directly engage him on substance. Very clearly, as we watch this play out over the last couple of months, the one thing that should be very clear is there`s severability between conservatism and issues.

People want strength in this race. And so the way that you have to go at him is not by having a superior policy position. Or say hey, I have a white paper on that subject.

And so none of these candidates has engaged Donald Trump in quite the right way. But for all of these candidates, right, who are, you know, very close to being eliminated functionally from the race as these -- as these brackets start to narrow, this is a contest of strength.

Are they going to be able to show the strength necessary to fill essentially the third space in what`s going to become a three bracket race as we come out of New Hampshire and start heading south.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, there are polls indicating in the one-on-one matchups, Hillary Clinton with the Republicans, and these are, we can all agree, far-fetched polls because they`re so far off in the future.

Marco Rubio does best against Hillary Clinton in the most recent version of that one-on-one matchup poll.

Is that what you saw tonight that if you were looking at that from the Clinton campaign perspective that the person you do not want to see emerge from this field is Marco Rubio.

KUMAR: He is the one that is the most stayed, he is the one that if you -- when you -- even when they were engaging with him on the immigration issue, he`s the one that`s been best to navigate it.

He is the one again that has the most -- I think gravitas at the end of the day. But let`s go back to a little bit of what this idea that Cruz engaged too early with Trump, trying to befriend him.

The reason that Cruz did that in my opinion is because he is trying to make sure that he gets the windfall of the supporters of Trump, what Trump leads.

And he recognizes that the only way to do that is to make sure that there is no light shining between them, and that`s why he had such trouble behind closed doors.

He was mocking Trump and he realize -- oh, people saw that. Again, it`s because he needs the Donald Trump supporters in order to have a shot at the White House.

O`DONNELL: What about that Stuart? I mean, that`s what everyone has been saying, is that the reason not to take the real hard shot at Trump and say that you are ridiculous is that you`re saying to 27 percent or 30 percent of the Republican electorate that you people who support him are ridiculous.

STEVENS: Listen, I think that -- I think it`s completely wrong the way to look at it personally. Picture in your mind every prison movie you`ve ever seen or prisoner of war movie you`ve ever seen.

This is about who is the tough guy on the yard. And you don`t get to be the tough guy on the yard by being nice to the tough guy on the yard.

You have to go out there and you have to knock that person out and show that you`re stronger. Then those people who were loyal to the tough guy will then be loyal to you.


KUMAR: But Stuart, I think -- but Stuart, I think that this is where we have to actually have a conversation on race.

Cruz can`t do that to Trump because the majority of his supporters are not necessarily embracing Cruz as a Hispanic, but as a tea partier.

So, if he were to do that, then all of a sudden, folks would actually see him as being defensive to the very core of what a lot of the Trump supporters are.

And if we don`t actually discuss that dynamic between Cruz and Trump, they were actually missing, I think, a lot of the bigger picture.

STEVENS: Listen, I think that you have to acknowledge that Donald Trump is toxic for the Republican Party. He`s losing to Hillary Clinton by double digits.

And I hope that when Republicans vote they`re going to acknowledge that. He`s losing now by double digits in Iowa. I don`t think he`s going to win New Hampshire.

I don`t think he`s going to win a primary, but I could be wrong about that. But I think that the way to beat Donald Trump is not by being nice to him, it`s to beat him.

To prove that he`s wrong, to prove that he`s not a serious candidate. Now, Jeb, as you say has the right words, but he needs to be more confrontational about it.

He needs to get in his face more. And I think Ted Cruz`s whole -- I`m just going to -- you know, feed the alligator in hopes that he`ll eat me last.


To me, it`s just -- it`s the wrong approach and it won`t work.

KUMAR: That`s right --

O`DONNELL: All right --

KUMAR: That`s the picture --

O`DONNELL: No one is going to top that line, so we`re going to just leave it right there and go to a break. Steve Schmidt, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

Now a talk about the idea of a brokered convention, Stuart Stevens is going to come back, Mitch McConnell says he doesn`t think it will happen.

That`s one of the things we`re going to be discussing coming up. Also, Hillary Clinton laid out her plan to fight ISIS today, we`ll take a look at the details to see if she has come up with anything different from what we`re already doing.

And it was the threat of terror that forced the shutdown of all schools -- all public schools in Los Angeles today. Investigation of that coming up.


O`DONNELL: Lindsey Graham was not impressed with Mike Huckabee`s responses on fighting ISIS in the earlier debate.


MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: If they`re going to come in here to kill us, they`re not going to say yes, and I`m coming to kill you.

They`re going to lie about it. Anybody that will kill you for God`s sake will lie to you. So, that`s why I say it`s impractical.

I still believe that if you take away their ability to fund their weaponry and to fund their terrorism, they don`t have terrorism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, once again you`re shaking your head, Senator Graham --


O`DONNELL: A little head-shaking there. Coming up, Hillary Clinton explains her plan to fight ISIS.



MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: And we can now announce the FBI has determined this is not a credible threat, something we couldn`t have announced earlier in the day.

And I want to be very careful because that does not mean that it`s conclusively one thing or another yet. Some have used words that I think are probably inappropriate like hoax and other things.

Whether it`s criminal mischief, whether it`s somebody testing vulnerabilities of multiple cities, we still do not know enough to say definitively.

What we do know is that it will be safe for our children to return to school tomorrow.


O`DONNELL: The good news they`ll be going back to school. Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will return to class tomorrow after an e-mail threat shut down every public school in Los Angeles today.

The district`s superintendent made the decision in light of the nearby San Bernardino massacre less than two weeks ago.

A similar e-mail threatened attacks against New York City public schools, but classes there weren`t canceled.

This morning, New York City police say they worked with the FBI and determined that the threat wasn`t credible and they`re investigating the e- mail as a hoax.

Joining us now, Andrew Blankstein; Nbc News investigative reporter and former "Los Angeles Times" reporter.

Here with us in New York, Jonathan Dienst; an Nbc News contributing correspondent and WNBC chief investigative reporter.

Jonathan, is there a time difference in terms of how much time New York had to deal with this threat? Did they have more time to analyze it or less time to analyze it than L.A. had?


NYPD became aware of this around 6:00 this morning, but because of what`s in the letter, they quickly determined that it was not credible.

The writer says there are 138 fellow high school Jihadists who are armed with rifles, bombs, hand grenades, gas, and we`re going to attack every school in this city.

A similar threat was made in the Los Angeles letter, not as many high school Jihadists, they said just 32 in that letter. So the NYPD quickly in consultation with the FBI decided this is most likely a --

O`DONNELL: Do we know actually what time they made this decision in New York? Because they didn`t go public with it until after L.A. went public, right?

Were they -- was it possible that maybe New York wasn`t going to say anything about it until L.A. went public?

DIENST: Look, the New York City Police Department gets three to five of these kinds of letters and threats to schools a week.

That`s 115-plus a year. And 75 to 80 percent are deemed not credible right off the bat, given what`s in the letter, where it comes from, what their best assessment is.

So they put the letter that was received today in that 75 to 85 percent of instant, not credible based on what was in the letter and the extraordinary claims that were being made.

Then around 9:00 Eastern, that`s when the NYPD and L.A. got together about the two letters, but certainly by 6:00 a.m. or so before New York City schools open.

The NYPD and the FBI were in the process of making the determination of we don`t think there`s much here.

O`DONNELL: Andrew, it`s fascinating to watch the way things unfolded in L.A. today, having had a child in the L.A. public school system.

She was able to actually walk to school from my house, but -- so in my case, that would have been a relatively easy thing to deal with today, but for most parents in that system, this was chaotic.

They had to change their work days to figure out how to handle the situation with their children. And watching the reaction in L.A., there seems to be some kind of reaction saying that, you know, at a certain point it became unclear to me what people were hoping for.

Like they were hoping to discover that it was a real threat so that there was a real reason to do all this today.

And if we discover that there wasn`t a real threat, we should somehow be unhappy about discovering that it wasn`t a real threat.

ANDREW BLANKSTEIN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NBC NEWS: Well, it sets off this mad scramble because everything is choreographed, you have traffic and getting to work and then to find out that all those plans go out the window.

Obviously, traffic gets worse and worse every year, you have to find a place for your kids to be, a safe place. And so that`s the first thought that goes through everybody`s head.

I mean, one of the things that happened is, as we referenced earlier, this threat was discovered out here in L.A. at about 10:00 last night.

So it was being worked by local, state and federal law enforcement authorities. At some point early in the morning, the superintendent of schools for the L.A. Unified School District has to make the call.

They have to decide whether those buses start rolling, and they`ve been given a certain set of information.

And they want -- in Superintendent Cortinez`s(ph) case, he wants a certain measure of certainty that those students are going to be safe.

Now, while law enforcement people that I talked to said that they thought that it wasn`t a credible threat for the superintendent of schools -- he wanted more certainty, and that was why the decision was made ultimately to close all the schools.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, do you have any indication of whether New York -- I mean, I`m getting the impression New York deals with more of these threats than L.A.

Do we know how many L.A. deals with?

DIENST: I don`t have the L.A. number, I told you it`s about 115-plus, just school threats in New York City.


O`DONNELL: Andrew, do we have an L.A. number comparable to that?

BLANKSTEIN: No, you know, one of the things that they did, you know, I don`t know if you recall that there was a spate of celebrity swatting cases where people would call up and say that there was someone being held hostage at a celebrity`s house or a shooting --

O`DONNELL: Right --

DEINST: Then SWAT teams would show up. Well, one of the things that the LAPD did and the other law enforcement agencies have followed suit was to not publicize those cases.

So when cases of bomb threats -- unless it`s a lot of people showing up, and then the news kind of follows that, they tend not to publicize those cases.

You know, there is several -- in fact, one of the schools in Manhattan beach, Mira Costa High School this week had three bomb threats and the last one, then they closed schools.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Blankstein and Jonathan Dienst, thank you both for joining me today, really appreciate it. Coming up, Hillary Clinton has an answer to Ted Cruz`s carpet bombing plan.



HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We will defeat these new enemies just as we have defeated those who`ve threatened us in the past.

Because it is not enough to contain ISIS. We must defeat ISIS, break its momentum and then its back.


O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton gave a speech today on her ideas about how to fight ISIS. Not surprisingly, it did not include anything that President Obama isn`t already doing.


CLINTON: We need a comprehensive strategy to counter each step in the process that can lead to an attack like the one in San Bernardino.

First, we have to shut down ISIS recruitment in the United States, especially online. Second, stop would-be Jihadists from getting training overseas and stop foreign terrorists from coming here.

Third, discover and disrupt plots before they can be carried out. Fourth, support law enforcement officers who risk their lives to prevent and respond to attacks.

And fifth, empower our Muslim-American communities who are on the frontlines of the fight against radicalization.



O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Mia Bloom, Professor of communication at Georgia State University and the author of the book "Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror".

Also back with us, Jonathan Altar, Msnbc political analyst. Jonathan, I did not hear anything there that we know how to do that we`ve ever been successful at doing or that we aren`t trying to do already.

JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: That`s true. And I think that`s why Democrats are a little bit on the defensive right now.

O`DONNELL: Yes, but I haven`t heard any such thing from a Republican --

ALTER: No --

O`DONNELL: Either --

ALTER: No --

O`DONNELL: Other than --


Carpet bombing which --

ALTER: The Republicans have no alternative.


ALTER: And they don`t want ground troops. If they were all for ground troops, then we would have a real debate.

O`DONNELL: Lindsey Graham would be calling --

ALTER: Lindsey, yes --

O`DONNELL: Above one percent --

ALTER: Lindsey Graham, but that`s not the position of all these squabbling Republicans.

O`DONNELL: Right --

ALTER: So, the advantage that the Democrats have is that Hillary and the President sound like adults -- they sound like children.

The advantage that the Republicans have is that Democrats are not responding robustly enough to the fears of the American people.

And the American people sense correctly that what we`ve been doing has not been working, and have been looking for some kind of a change in strategy, and they`re not finding it.

So somehow there`s a little bit of tone-deafness that`s going on here. You know, everything she says sounds good. It`s adult, it`s necessary, but insufficient.

O`DONNELL: And, you know, it just sounds to me like you got to say something, so we`ll just say the same old stuff that we --

ALTER: Right --

O`DONNELL: Always say. Professor Bloom, did you hear anything in there that you think will work or am I short-changing this thing?

MIA BLOOM, PROFESSOR OF COMMUNICATION, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, I mean, part of the problem is on the one hand, Hillary Clinton is saying carpet bombing and bombing until the desert glows is ridiculous. But on the other hand, she is advocating some of the same policies just, it is a matter of degree. The only person I have heard say what I believe to be true is John Kasich, who says we need to get rid of Assad.

I think we need to extinguish what is ultimately the main motivator for ISIS and these groups, because this is the flame that has fuelled the fire. It is not radicalization as we understand it. So, my concern is that we are looking at the wrong issue.

O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what Bernie Sanders said about fighting ISIS tonight.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I believe is that we have got to lead the world in forming an international coalition, a coalition consisting of countries that have different geopolitical points of view. That means we work with Russia, we work with France, we work with Germany, we work with the UK, we work with the major powers in the world.

But, we also work with the Muslim nations. King Abdullah of Jordan, and I should tell you that Jordan has played an incredibly heroic role over the last many years. What he said, and I believe to be true, is that the troops on the ground have got to be Muslim troops.


O`DONNELL: Professor Bloom, that is just a variation on what we have already been hearing from President Obama, from Hillary Clinton.

BLOOM: Yes, except for the fact that the Saudi coalition excludes Iran and Iraq. So, to me, it does not make a lot of sense. I think part of the problem is that the geopolitical conflicts of interest that exist really stymie any kind of coalition. So, that Turkey spends more time bombing the Kurds.

Russia has not been bombing ISIS. They have been helping Assad. And, in fact, Assad invited Russia in to counterbalance Iranian influence, which I do not think anyone in the debate sort of realizes. They conflate Iran with Syria and Assad. So, it is much more complicated than many of the candidates understand. But, also, at the same time, it is very messy.

There is not an easy solution. But, I personally do not think that the United States should be the policemen of the world. I think that has gotten ourselves in trouble in the past. And, I think that it is a really dangerous precedent to go forward and get involved in any more foreign wars.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, you got to be an optimist to get into this field, as John Kerry shows every day as secretary of the state, just a real charging optimist, but you do not want to be Pollyanna. And, this stuff about, "Oh, we are going to get a coalition together. We are going to need Muslim troops. We will not need our troops. They are going to get in there. They are going to do this," you know, I just hear that and I just -- I have a zero confidence that they will be able to put that together.

JONATHAN ALTER, "DAILY BEAST" COLUMNIST: Well, certainly, so far it has been pathetic. But, you know, you do have to try to do this.


ALTER: And, this is what John Kerry is job is. And, I am not sure we are using all the tools that we have at our disposal. We provide some significant amounts of aid to a lot of these Arab countries. Why cannot we link that aid to then taking action that is in our national security interest, going after ISIS. And, I sometimes think that we are a little too passive right now. This looks publicly in pushing them to move in and take care of this.

O`DONNELL: We are going to break it here. Professor Mia Bloom , thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up, it is looking tonight like there might not be a republican nominee who emerges when the dust clears from the primaries. It might have to get settled at the convention, the brokered convention scenario when we return.




REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: By the end of March, mid April, I believe that we are going to have the presumptive nominee, just like I always have. I am not backing off of that.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Presumptive nominee does not mean they have all the delegates.

PRIEBUS: Well, it is just like Mitt Romney was in April of four years ago.

CAVUTO: Fair enough. Fair enough.

PRIEBUS: So, I believe that we will have a nominee at the convention. If, for example, though, we do not --

CAVUTO: And, if that is Donald Trump you are perfectly OK with that?

PRIEBUS: We are going to support whoever the nominee is.

CAVUTO: OK. Very good.

PRIEBUS: And, we are going to have a party that is better than it has ever been before.


O`DONNELL: This morning, Mitch McConnell was asked about all of this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE INTERVIEWER: Is a deadlocked convention something the party should prepare for?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It has not happened in a very long time. And, I think it is highly unlikely to happen. Well, it is an interesting thing to discuss but highly unlikely I think.


O`DONNELL: Back with us, Stuart Stevens and Jonathan Alter. Stuart, you wrote a great piece about this in which you stake out the brave territory that -- and you think you might be alone in this as a public analyst of this campaign.

The brave territory that Donald Trump will not win anything, will not win Iowa, will not win New Hampshire, will not win South Carolina, Nevada. States where he is way ahead now. Tell us how you come to that conclusion at this point?




STEVENS: Listen.

O`DONNELL: Not a bad guide.

STEVENS: I -- I think you have to take these states in sequence and think about how one state impacts the other. In Iowa, he is not going to win Iowa. I mean he is a terrible candidate for Iowa. Someone who has been married three times, bankrupt four times in the gambling business and stumbles over a question about whether or not he has asked God for forgiveness. It is not a great candidate for Iowa.

So, he leaves Iowa a loser. He is someone whose definition as being a winner, he will not be a winner. So, then he goes into New Hampshire. Now, it has been a long time in New Hampshire since someone won New Hampshire who did not campaign there more than someone who came in second.

He has not been someone who has campaigned a lot in New Hampshire. And, if Donald Trump were to win new Hampshire, he would break the whole New Hampshire compact with voters, which is you really have to go up there and meet people. I think that New Hampshire is going to do what it is always done in the past, which is reward someone, who has spent a lot of time talking to voters.

That would not be Donald Trump. So, then he is going to lose New Hampshire, then he is going to lose Iowa then New Hampshire. So, then you have got South Carolina. Now, in theory, Donald Trump is a very good candidate for South Carolina. But, strange things happen to candidates that do not win.

And, I think he does not respond well to pressure. He would be under a lot of pressure. I think that there would be other candidate, who could do well in South Carolina. And, someone is going to win those first two states. And, I think that those people will be better positioned to win South Carolina than someone who lost the first two states.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, Stuart makes the point in his piece that no candidate picked by a so-called brokered convention has won since FDR in 1932. Now, you are suggesting here the other night that a brokered convention could give a tremendous excitement to the republican ticket because we would be doing saturation coverage of this.


O`DONNELL: This would be breaking news 24 hours a day for four days and then suddenly this triumphant character would appear and that could be a super charged candidate through a process like that.

ALTER: Yes. I think that could happen because, you know, if nobody goes in with enough delegates, and right now the republican field is very split. It is not at all like 2012 where, you know, you had a presumptive front- runner the whole time even if he stumbled along the way on Mitt Romney.

So, this really could -- and Karl Rove agrees with this, you know, go into Cleveland, where the convention is being held in a position where nobody has enough delegates. If at that point, you get the world`s greatest reality T.V. show that might offset the idea that people do not want somebody that has not entered the primaries.

So, that would be the wrap on, you know, a Paul Ryan or somebody from outside the process, getting the nomination that, you know, if you have not faced the voters, they are not going to nominate you. But, all of the delegates by that time will be liberated from, who they had to support on the first ballot.

So, on the second, third, fourth ballots, they can vote for whoever they think would be their best candidate going into the fall. I think Ryan is the only republican right now, who unites moderates and conservatives. He might, you know, discredit himself with conservatives between now and then because he has to make tough budget decisions like one that he made tonight.

But, you know, there is a possibility for some real chaos. However, I think Stuart is really on to something that you could see the emergence of somebody from back in the pack, just because they are not doing well now, does not mean that they cannot catch fire in the next seven weeks. There is still a long time to go in political terms between now and the beginning of these contests.

O`DONNELL: Stuart, what about Jonathan`s notion that a brokered convention, you know, a suspenseful convention, where we do not know the outcome, and the outcome turns out to be somebody, who was not necessarily in this field, or whatever that outcome turns out to be, actually energizing, giving the republican ticket a huge super charge coming out of the convention?

STEVENS: Well, look, I love Jonathan`s scenario, but I think it is exciting to watch a baby crawl across the interstate. But, I am not sure it is necessarily the most pleasant of experiences. You know, the way I look at it, is that you are going to have four or five candidates if you go into the brokered convention, who are going to have worked their heart out for the last year and a half.

Everybody hates to lose, but normally you are going to have a situation -- when you do not have a brokered convention, you have a number of votes that say you did lose. So, you are going to have four or five people, who think that they equally deserve a chance to lose.

So, for them to then say, "OK, someone who has not campaigned is going to come in, we are going to give this crown jewel, potential presidency to that person," man, I love the best man. I love all this in theory --


STEVENS: But, in Cleveland are hearts going to be that big? I think it is going to be a very, very bitter, angry situation that just -- I just cannot see that happening.

ALTER: But, will the delegates -- Stuart, I mean you are much more of an expert on the mechanics of republican politics than I am. Will the delegates, let us say the Trump delegates, the Cruz delegates, whatever, if their guy does not have enough votes to win a first ballot victory, will the delegates actually listen to those candidates? Or will they vote for whoever they want, whoever they think will be the best candidate on the second, third and fourth ballots?

STEVENS: I do think what you are -- and we have all played risk and what happens in risk is you make alliances. And, I do think that what you would more likely see are two of the stronger candidates coming together and forming a ticket. And, that, that would then propel that ticket to victory. I think that is the most likely scenario, rather than someone else coming in from the outside.

O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens gets tonight`s wise last word on the republican brokered convention. Jonathan Alter, thanks for joining us. Stuart, thank you for joining us.

Coming up, there are no reviews yet of the new "Star Wars" movie, but there are tweets from some of the big stars, who actually went to the premier. We will have some of those.

And, of course, I will answer that question that I asked earlier on Twitter about the weirdest and best dessert that I have ever had.



O`DONNELL: Reviews of "Stars Wars: The Force Awakens" will not be released until tomorrow, but we have tweets from people who attended the premier. Rainn Wilson tweeted, "First Star Wars review. It was epic, awesome and perfect. The cast was stellar. J.J. killed it."

Variety reported today there were plenty of cheers from the audience at the end including actress, Geena Davis, who said I loved everything about it. For more, here is NBC`s Joe Fryer.


JOE FRYER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Star power was the force on display at this premier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): That John Williams crescendo at the beginning. It is the greatest thing ever.


FRYER (voice-over): The franchise`s newest faces shared the massive red carpet with legends from a long time ago like Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.


MARK HAMILL, ACTOR: I mean it is pinch me time. Everything seems to be louder and bigger and busier.


FRYER (voice-over): On opening weekend, analyst predict "The Force Awakens" could generate at least $150 million to $200 million domestically shattering "The Hobbits`" December Box Office record. When it is all said and done, the seventh installment of "Star Wars" could earn between $1.5 billion and $2 billion worldwide, maybe more. The highest grossing film of all time is "Avatar" at $2.8 billion.


PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, RENTRACK SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: No movie has ever made $3 billion worldwide. "The Force Awakens," there is a lot of pressure on this movie. Could it achieve that monumental landmark in terms of Box Office? We will have to wait and see.


FRYER (voice-over): This is the first Star Wars film made without creator George Lucas, who sold his company to Disney for $4 billion. A big investment, putting a lot of pressure on Director J.J. Abrams speaking with "60 Minutes."


J.J. ABRAMS, DIRECTOR OF "STAR WARS" THE FORCE AWAKENS" FILM: There are moments of just abject terror as to what we are all taking on.



FRYER (voice-over): Still, the buzz is louder than a lightsaber. On top of movie tickets, merchandisers expected to bring in billions with everything from high heels to humidifiers hitting the shelves. At the brand-new Alamo Draft House Cinema in Omaha, the decor is totally inspired by Star Wars.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): I literally was just like, "Whoa, I need to get tickets here."


FRYER (voice-over): And, at that line outside the Chinese theatre, Caroline Ritter and Andrew Porters, actually planned to wed right before they see the movie.


ANDREW PORTERS, "STAR WARS" ULTIMATE FAN: It got three important things here. It got Star Wars, Caroline and good friends.

FRYER (voice-over): Wait. Do not you mean Caroline then Star Wars?

PORTERS: Ah -- I mean, of course.

CAROLINE RITTER, ANDREW PORTERS` FIANCEE: I am more excited for the movie.




O`DONNELL: NBC`s Joe Fryer reporting from Los Angeles. Coming up, the weirdest dessert I have ever had and the best. Here is a hint. Bacon was involved.



O`DONNELL: Got some great answers on Twitter to what was your weirdest dessert and your best dessert. Some of those tweets next.



O`DONNELL: The weirdest, and I think the best dessert that I have ever had was in Birmingham, Alabama, two years ago. Now, before I get into my big reveal, I want to get to some of your answers on Twitter tonight to my question, what was your weirdest dessert and what was your best dessert.

Nordzilla76 tweeted, "Beaver tails, not the animal. #Canada." I am not sure exactly what is going on there. And, Only4RN tweeted, "Weirdest was garlic ice cream, surprisingly coconut-like. Best, my bread pudding with vanilla sauce." I bet that is.

Well, my weirdest dessert and my best dessert were the same dessert. And, we are now joined by my dining mate that night Casey Dolan, who will do a much better job than I can of describing that most amazing dessert. Casey, producer on this show -- first of all, why were we in Birmingham?


O`DONNELL: I am going to ask questions I know some of these answers, but the audience, you know --

DOLAN: Yes. We will tell them.


DOLAN: It was December 2013 and a cub scout troop -- troop 3415 in Birmingham, Alabama, the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church raised a lot of money for the K.I.N.D. Fund.

O`DONNELL: You know what they raised?

DOLAN: $18,000.

O`DONNELL: They raised $18,000, somewhere -- there is a camera. And, they gave us physically the biggest check.


O`DONNELL: And, the actual biggest amount.

DOLAN: You flew with this. You flew with this.

O`DONNELL: I flew -- this was carried on baggage. The biggest amount in one contribution we have ever gotten for the K.I.N.D. Fund. They did a great job for us.


O`DONNELL: So, we then went to a restaurant in Birmingham.

DOLAN: Yes. The "Hot and Hot Fish Club."

O`DONNELL: "Hot and Hot Fish Club."

DOLAN: Yes. And, we had some sort of --

O`DONNELL: We were told to get this dessert.

DOLAN: Yes. It was some sort of -- made of a doughnut center. But, the important thing was, there was a candy baking sort of layer that was really what you loved.

O`DONNELL: And, I took a picture of it. Right?


O`DONNELL: We took a picture of it. We have to show it America.

DOLAN: There you go.

O`DONNELL: And, on the menu it was called candied bacon, something like that.

DOLAN: And, I actually called "Hot and Hot Fish" to see if they had --


DOLAN: They did not have it on the menu anymore because they change their dessert menu every week. So it was --

O`DONNELL: It was absolutely fantastic.


O`DONNELL: And, you have been working on the K.I.N.D. Fund for years, getting us to where we are with it. The girl`s scholarship program. We have some new totals. Do you have them?

DOLAN: Yes. I have them.

O`DONNELL: I would like you to do the honor of reporting that to America, where we are.

DOLAN: Oh, man. This is amazing.

O`DONNELL: We picked up some money overnight. Where are we now?

DOLAN: Right now, we are at -- we picked up almost $53,000 overnight.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh.

DOLAN: So, right now, we are at $9,373,188, which is really -- so far we have provided almost $500,000 students with desks, 155,000 desks. So, we are at a little -- almost 9.4 million, which is really unbelievable.

O`DONNELL: And, you have been with this program since from before we went on the air.

DOLAN: I know.

O`DONNELL: I remember when you came in for a job interview down the hall there. And, now, you have had enough?



O`DONNELL: You cannot --

DOLAN: Never. Never enough.

O`DONNELL: You got a promotion to Andrea Mitchell`s show. You know, you are going to have get up earlier.

DOLAN: I know. I know.

O`DONNELL: And, she is the hardest working person in T.V. News.

DOLAN: She is the hardest working -- absolutely.

O`DONNELL: You are going to have a harder job.

DOLAN: Second to you.

O`DONNELL: So, we are going to miss you. We are somehow going to have to carry on with the K.I.N.D. Fund. Could you tell people how to contribute to the K.I.N.D. Fund?

DOLAN: Yes. or you can call 1-800-4-UNICEF, and either way works. We appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: You have been fantastic in everything you have done with the K.I.N.D. Fund. And, you know, I got a little whisper to me today that the traditional going away present for lifers like you here at the show.

And, I got you what you wanted. I got you a classroom of desks from the K.I.N.D. Fund. And, I think we have the -- and you got the e-mail. I got the desks in to your name, which we are always telling people you can do during the Christmas season.


O`DONNELL: You can get a gift, give it to someone in that person`s name and UNICEF will send the e-mail confirmation that you have received that. And, I think we can put that up on the screen or maybe we do not have it.

DOLAN: Well, it said, "Dear Casey, and, you know, this is your gift." It was really amazing. I cannot believe that.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It is just a great way. There it is. That is your going away present.

DOLAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: It was exactly the right thing.

DOLAN: Yes. All I want.

O`DONNELL: I do not know how we are going to continue to do this T.V. show without Casey Dolan. This is the absolute truth. I do not know how to do this show without Casey Dolan. I have never done it without Casey Dolan.

DOLAN: I went on vacation a couple of times and you survived.


O`DONNELL: In January, they are going to see "The Last Word" without Casey Dolan and they are going to see a huge difference. It is just not going to be the same. I could not do it without you.

Thank you for everything you did on the Birmingham trip, finding that restaurant, knowing what dessert to order. Everything you have done for K.I.N.D. Everything you have done for the show. We are going to miss you.

DOLAN: I am going to miss you so much.

O`DONNELL: Will you still drop by once in a while?

DOLAN: All the time. And, I would not be anywhere that I am without you and the show.

O`DONNELL: Oh, cut it out.

DOLAN: Yes. No, you cut it out.


O`DONNELL: You had all sorts of offers. It was a bidding war to get you to work here. That is it for "The Last Word" tonight. The Casey Dolan appropriately gets the "Last Word" tonight. Chris Matthews is next. He is going to have highlights and analyst of tonight`s republican Presidential debate live from Las Vegas. Casey Dolan`s last seat.